One person can make a difference! Neda Oqueli, a registered nurse from Puerto Rico did.
In 2001 Oqueli created a political action plan to address a need for nurses in Florida.Oqueli used her own personal funds of $3000 – $4000.00 to hire an attorney to change the Florida Nursing Law. Her goal was to change the law to allow registered nurses from Puerto Rico, The Virgin Islands and other United States territories to have a Florida license by endorsement as apposed to having to take the licensing exam again. Retaking the test was at a cost of $200.00.
Wilson Jerry Foster, a Tallahasse attorney, assisted Oqueli in drafting a letter that was hand delivered on November 1st, 2001 to Jeb Bush, Governor of Florida at that time. As fate would have it, Governor Bush was in the process of drafting a bill to address the nursing shortage in Florida which included financial measures, grants for education and hospitals to retain nurses.
After November 1st, the provision to accepting the accreditation of nurses from US territories was included. According to Cathy Allman, Vice President of nursing and health-care professionals, Florida Hospital Association. ” Preliminary statistics show a vacancy rate for nurses at 12.5%, making the state’s vacancy rate higher than the national average of 10.8%.”
Florida is the only state granting licenses by endorsement to Puerto Rican nurses who took the Spanish Language exam instead of the NCLEX, according Kristin Hellquist, associate director of policy and external relations at the National Council of State Boards of Nursing.
This state bill #519 was signed by Governor Jeb Bush and became law in 2002. This is a professional success for nurses from US territories and a personal and professional milestone for Oqueli who has worked at the Miami Veterans Administration Medical Center since 1988. This new law will also enable nurses from US territories to pursue educational advancements since nurses are required to be licensed in the state where they plan to study.
Oqueli looks ahead to blaze the trail for Puerto Rican nurses. She is planning to set up her own recruiting agency. In addition she plans to establish a National Organization for Puerto Rican nurses.
There are countless ways of achieving greatness, but any road to achieving one’s maximum potential must be built on a bedrock of respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence and a rejection of mediocrity. Buck Rodgers.
Oqueli surely displays respect for the individual, a commitment to excellence and a rejection of mediocrity. Oqueli has made a difference!